Have a Safe and Delicious Diabetic Thanksgiving!

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Thanksgiving is all about family, happiness, history, and most importantly, food. For diabetics, the joy of the holidays can be tarnished by food anxiety. Thanksgiving dinner can be loaded with carbs and sugar, but by making smart choices at the dinner table, there is no reason a diabetic can’t celebrate a delicious meal alongside the rest of the family.

Here are some tips for celebrating a healthy Thanksgiving with diabetes.

Keep your blood sugar in check. Plan in advance how the timing of Thanksgiving dinner fits in with your meal schedule. Many diabetics have a meal plan in order to time insulin injections appropriately, so it is important to accommodate the scheduling of your regular meals alongside Thanksgiving dinner. If you normally eat later in the day, have a light snack around the same time to prevent a low blood glucose reaction.

Skimp—don’t skip—the carbs. A traditional Thanksgiving meal is loaded with carbohydrates. You don’t have to entirely limit them from your plate, but keep portion sizes in mind. Potatoes, yams, stuffing, rolls, and even cranberry sauce are very high in carbohydrates. It’s OK to have a small helping of each, but try to fill the majority of your plate with lean turkey meat, salad, and vegetables.

Incorporate more veggies onto your plate. Many Thanksgiving dishes have very few vegetables, so try making a new dish this year! Green beans, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cooked carrots make wonderful additions to a Thanksgiving meal. Don’t fall for creamed corn! It may look like a vegetable, but it’s disguise hides a load of carbs, sugar, and fat.

If you’re in charge of the cooking, look for recipes that incorporate ingredient substitutions to lower the fat, sugar, and carbohydrate content of the food. Your guests will probably not notice the difference, and it will be a safer meal for you. If you have some picky guests that only want traditional, high-fat Thanksgiving food, provide both healthy and traditional options for everyone.

Offer healthy dessert options. Pumpkin pie is a Thanksgiving staple, but it is extremely high in carbohydrates, sugar, and fat. Provide fruit cups, small fruit tarts, or angel food cake with ice cream. These delicious options are much healthier than pumpkin pie and still delicious. If you still crave that pumpkin spice flavor, try a healthier recipe, like pumpkin mousse!

Pace yourself by sipping a glass of wine. Take time in between bites, lean back in your chair, and nurse a cup of wine, beer, coffee, or water. This will make you feel full faster and ultimately lower your overall calorie intake.

If you feel that you’ve splurged a little bit at the table, take a brisk walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Often, you can encourage a few friends or family to join you! Another idea is to start a post-meal outdoor game, such as a friendly football match or a quick game of hide and seek with the kids. It’s inevitable that we all eat a little extra on Thanksgiving, but as long as you maintain your best lifestyle habits, it won’t cut too deep into your healthy diabetic schedule.